Cold and cough in children – Home remedies and prevention tips

Cold and cough are the signs of a common viral infection that can affect children and adults. There are over 200 known and unknown viruses that can lead to these infections. The symptoms of a common cold and cough can be confusing to identify as people could mistake them for the signs of allergies and the flu.

The causes, symptoms, and risk factors of a common cold are more or less similar for adults and children. However, parents must exercise caution when it comes to treating and managing its symptoms in young children and toddlers.

It is imperative to be aware of the possible side effects of various remedies to avoid any health complications. One must consider a variety of factors before administering home remedies to children.

Young children must not be given any over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medications without consulting the child’s pediatrician or family doctor. Each child may react differently to the same dose of a medication. Thus, it is not advisable to administer even small amounts without the knowledge of a certified medical professional. One must avoid the use of OTC medications for children up to the age of 6 years.

Some home remedies to provide relief from cold and cough in young children are:

Honey is one of the preferred home remedies for treating a cough. However, parents must not give honey to infants. If the baby is less than a year old, honey can cause infant botulism, a condition that can result in the abnormal functioning of nerves. It is a rare disease, and most parents have never heard of the disorder. One must exercise caution and ensure that the child does not ingest honey in any form. For children older than a year, it is safe to give a limited quantity of honey, no more than 5ml at a time, to manage persistent coughing. Corn syrup is an alternate and safe home remedy for children that can provide relief from cough and congestion of the airways.

Saltwater or saline solution
Adults can use salt water to gargle and clear up the irritation in the throat. A saline solution is preferable for small children as it can help clear up a blocked nasal cavity. Blowing their nose directly may not necessarily get rid of the mucus. However, a few drops of mild saline solution on the dried up mucus in the nasal cavity will help break it down. One can then gently clean it out with a soft tissue or cloth. Thus, it is a less painful alternative to forcefully blowing a child’s nose.

Topical applications
Vaporubs and similar topical applications can provide temporary relief from the symptoms of congestion that accompany a cold. The vapor of key ingredients including camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus oil help children sleep better at night. These ingredients create warmth, thus relieving congestion from the outside.